Administrative Code

Virginia Administrative Code
11/28/2021

Part V. Standards of Practice; Disciplinary Actions; Reinstatement

18VAC115-30-140. Standards of practice.

A. The protection of the public health, safety, and welfare and the best interest of the public shall be the primary guide in determining the appropriate professional conduct of all persons whose activities are regulated by the board.

B. Persons certified by the board shall:

1. Practice in a manner that is in the best interest of the public and does not endanger the public health, safety, or welfare.

2. Be able to justify all services rendered to clients as necessary for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes.

3. Practice only within the competency area for which they are qualified by training or experience.

4. Report to the board known or suspected violations of the laws and regulations governing the practice of certified substance abuse counselors or certified substance abuse counseling assistants.

5. Neither accept nor give commissions, rebates, or other forms of remuneration for referral of clients for professional services. Make appropriate consultations and referrals based on the best interest of clients.

6. Stay abreast of new developments, concepts, and practices that are necessary to providing appropriate services.

7. Document the need for and steps taken to terminate a counseling relationship when it becomes clear that the client is not benefiting from the relationship. Document the assistance provided in making arrangements for the continuation of treatment for clients when necessary, following termination of a counseling relationship.

8. Not willfully or negligently breach the confidentiality between a practitioner and a client. A breach of confidentiality that is required or permitted by applicable law or beyond the control of the practitioner shall not be considered negligent or willful.

9. Not engage in conversion therapy with any person younger than 18 years of age.

C. In regard to client records, persons certified by the board shall:

1. Disclose counseling records to others only in accordance with applicable law.

2. Maintain client records securely, inform all employees of the requirements of confidentiality, and provide for the destruction of records that are no longer useful in a manner that ensures client confidentiality.

3. Ensure confidentiality in the usage of client records and clinical materials by obtaining informed consent from the client or the client's legally authorized representative before (i) videotaping, (ii) audio recording, (iii) permitting third-party observation, or (iv) using identifiable client records and clinical materials in teaching, writing, or public presentations.

4. Maintain timely, accurate, legible, and complete written or electronic records for each client, to include counseling dates and identifying information to substantiate the substance abuse counseling plan, client progress, and termination.

5. Maintain client records for a minimum of five years or as otherwise required by law from the date of termination of the counseling relationship with the following exceptions:

a. At minimum, records of a minor child shall be maintained for five years after attaining the age of majority (18 years);

b. Records that are required by contractual obligation or federal law to be maintained for a longer period of time; or

c. Records that have been transferred to another mental health service provider or given to the client or the client's legally authorized representative.

D. In regard to dual relationships, persons certified by the board shall:

1. Not engage in dual relationships with clients, former clients, supervisees, and supervisors that are harmful to the client's or supervisee's well-being or that would impair the substance abuse counselor's, substance abuse counseling assistant's, or supervisor's objectivity and professional judgment or increase the risk of client or supervisee exploitation. This prohibition includes such activities as counseling close friends, former sexual partners, employees, or relatives or engaging in business relationships with clients.

2. Not engage in sexual intimacies or romantic relationships with current clients or supervisees. For at least five years after cessation or termination of professional services, certified substance abuse counselors and certified substance abuse counseling assistants shall not engage in sexual intimacies or romantic relationships with a client or those included in collateral therapeutic services. Because sexual or romantic relationships are potentially exploitative, certified substance abuse counselors and certified substance abuse counseling assistants shall bear the burden of demonstrating that there has been no exploitation. A client's consent to, initiation of, or participation in sexual behavior or involvement with a certified substance abuse counselor or certified substance abuse counseling assistants does not change the nature of the conduct nor lift the regulatory prohibition.

3. Recognize conflicts of interest and inform all parties of obligations, responsibilities, and loyalties to third parties.

E. Upon learning of evidence that indicates a reasonable probability that another mental health provider is or may be guilty of a violation of standards of conduct as defined in statute or regulation, persons certified by the board shall advise their clients of their right to report such misconduct to the Department of Health Professions in accordance with § 54.1-2400.4 of the Code of Virginia.

Statutory Authority

§ 54.1-2400 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR560-01-03 § 5.1, eff. May 8, 1991; amended, Virginia Register Volume 10, Issue 14, eff. May 4, 1994; Volume 16, Issue 7, eff. January 19, 2000; Volume 19, Issue 1, eff. October 23, 2002; Volume 19, Issue 18, eff. June 18, 2003; Volume 36, Issue 11, eff. February 19, 2020; Volume 37, Issue 24, eff. August 18, 2021.

18VAC115-30-150. Grounds for disciplinary action, denial of initial certification, or denial of renewal of certification.

In accordance with subdivision 7 of § 54.1-2400 and § 54.1-2401 of the Code of Virginia, the board may revoke, suspend, restrict, impose a monetary penalty, or decline to issue or renew a certificate based upon the following conduct:

1. Conviction of a felony or of a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude, or violation of or aid to another in violating any provision of Chapter 35 (§ 54.1-3500 et seq.) of Title 54.1 of the Code of Virginia, any other statute applicable to the practice of substance abuse counseling, or any provision of this chapter;

2. Procuring a certificate, including submission of an application or supervisory forms, by fraud or misrepresentation;

3. Conducting one's practice in such a manner so as to make it a danger to the health and welfare of one's clients or to the public; or if one is unable to practice substance abuse counseling with reasonable skill and safety to clients by reason of illness, abusive use of alcohol, drugs, narcotics, chemicals, or any other type of material or as a result of any mental or physical condition;

4. Violating or abetting another person in the violation of any provision of any statute applicable to the practice of substance abuse counseling or any regulation in this chapter;

5. Performance of functions outside the board-certified area of competency in accordance with regulations set forth in this chapter and §§ 54.1-3507.1 and 54.1-3507.2 of the Code of Virginia;

6. Performance of an act likely to deceive, defraud, or harm the public;

7. Intentional or negligent conduct that causes or is likely to cause injury to a client;

8. Failure to cooperate with an employee of the Department of Health Professions in the conduct of an investigation;

9. Failure to report evidence of child abuse or neglect as required in § 63.2-1509 of the Code of Virginia or elder abuse or neglect as required in § 63.2-1606 of the Code of Virginia; or

10. Action taken against a health or mental health license, certification, registration, or application in Virginia or another jurisdiction.

Statutory Authority

§§ 54.1-2400 and 54.1-3505 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR560-01-03 § 5.2, eff. May 8, 1991; amended, Virginia Register Volume 10, Issue 14, eff. May 4, 1994; Volume 16, Issue 7, eff. January 19, 2000; Volume 24, Issue 14, eff. April 16, 2008; Volume 25, Issue 26, eff. October 15, 2009; Volume 36, Issue 11, eff. February 19, 2020.

18VAC115-30-160. Reinstatement following disciplinary action.

A. Any person whose certificate has been suspended or denied renewal by the board under the provisions of 18VAC115-30-150 may, two years subsequent to such board action, submit a new application for reinstatement of certification. Any person whose certificate has been revoked by the board under the provisions of 18VAC115-30-150 may, three years subsequent to such board action, submit a new application to the board for certification to the board.

B. The board in its discretion may, after a hearing, grant the reinstatement sought in subsection A of this section.

C. The applicant for reinstatement, if approved, shall be certified upon payment of the appropriate fee applicable at the time of reinstatement.

Statutory Authority

§ 54.1-2400 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR560-01-03 § 5.3, eff. May 8, 1991; amended, Virginia Register Volume 10, Issue 14, eff. May 4, 1994; Volume 13, Issue 25, eff. August 7, 1997; Volume 16, Issue 7, eff. January 19, 2000; Volume 16, Issue 13, eff. April 12, 2000; Volume 24, Issue 14, eff. April 16, 2008.

Website addresses provided in the Virginia Administrative Code to documents incorporated by reference are for the reader's convenience only, may not necessarily be active or current, and should not be relied upon. To ensure the information incorporated by reference is accurate, the reader is encouraged to use the source document described in the regulation.

As a service to the public, the Virginia Administrative Code is provided online by the Virginia General Assembly. We are unable to answer legal questions or respond to requests for legal advice, including application of law to specific fact. To understand and protect your legal rights, you should consult an attorney.